Matching Funds Do Not Deserve City Funding


Last week brought the announcement that an anonymous donor had offered as much as $200,000 – in a $1 match for every $2 of public donations – to help the Kalo Foundation purchase and rehab the former Alfonso Iannelli studio and residence at 225 N. Northwest Hwy., which most recently housed Audrey’s Callico and Old Lace, a flowers and gifts shop.

Estimates place the cost of acquisition and rehab at $600,000, which means that the Kalo Foundation needs to raise $400,000 on its own in order for that anonymous $200,000 to put the project over the top.

We here at PublicWatchdog applaud the efforts of the Kalo Foundation to preserve that property, if only because we greatly prefer the rehabilitation of the current structure to replacing it with yet another multi-family residential structure – in this case, four two-story townhouses – that would further erode this community’s single-family home character and further burden our infrastructure and our schools.

But the skeptic in us wonders just how legitimate this offer really is.  That’s because almost everyone involved in fundraising has their own stories of promises, and even pledges, of donations that never materialized – many of which had real names and addresses attached to them rather than being shrouded in anonymity and unaccountability.

Frankly, it would be a lot more convincing if the anonymous donor actually put the money into an escrow with specific instructions on how it can be drawn down as the Kalo Foundation reaches its fundraising goals.  And the whole project would appear a lot more legitimate if the Kalo Foundation offered a “money back guaranty” for all donations to this preservation project if the matching anonymous funds do not materialize, or if the property is not acquired and rehabbed.

That being said, while preserving what by all accounts is a structure of local historical significance seems like a good idea – and we wish the Kalo Foundation good fortune in that effort – we question some of the comments by Kalo Foundation representatives that suggest the rehab of the former Iannelli studio will provide a significant boost to the Park Ridge economy. 

No matter how well this property is rehabbed and turned into a museum of local artist and artisan history, we don’t see it turning into any type of tourist mecca. 

Let’s face it: Alfonso Iannelli, the silversmiths of the Kalo Shop, architect Bruce Goff, painter and muralist Albert Krehbiel, and painter, illustrator and printmaker Dulah Evans Krehbiel aren’t household names even here in Park Ridge. So the prospect of busloads of art buffs and historians rolling through Park Ridge on pilgrimages to 225 N. Northwest Hwy. is basically a pipe dream.

Consequently, we hope the Kalo Foundation – which came looking for taxpayer funding by the City almost immediately after it was organized – doesn’t view this anonymous matching-funds offer as an excuse to once again put the arm on the City for a handout of tax dollars.

As we repeatedly have said about the various private community groups who view our local politicians as the soft touches they have proved to be when it comes to giving away other people’s money: If you can’t persuade the taxpayers directly to donate to your cause, you have no business trying to pick their pockets indirectly through their public officials.

Even if some anonymous donor purportedly has offered $200,000 of matching funds.

To read or post comments, click on title.

7 comments so far

PW, are you saying that if Kalo got $395,000 of donations, you would oppose the city contributing the final $5,000 to get the full $200,000 and making this project a reality?

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s exactly what we are saying. Buying a museum for the Kalo Foundation isn’t the City’s job.

I’m with you, PubDog, on stopping all these multi-family residences. They are just an attempt by greedy developers to maximize their land investment.

So you have a developer…a business person…who has a plan to build and he comes to the city with said plan. He does not put a gun to their head. They have every opportunity to nix the project if it violates any existing laws or code. It is our governments officials responsibility to either approve or stop the project. The deeloper hopes to eventually sell all the units to cover his costs and make a profit.

Gee you are right. What a Greedy person!!!! Give me a break!! My god what planet do you live on?? They want to “maximize their investment”!! What horrible evil people!!!!

If the city and the voters do not want multi-family residences that is fine but don’t catagorize a develpoer as greed just because they are trying to run their business in a profitable way.

God forbid a business person, I mean a greedy business person, tries to maximize the return on their investment. Dope.

Our opposition to multi-family residences has nothing to do with developers – greedy or not – maximizing their land investments. Our opposition to multi-family residences is that they add density to a community that, we believe, does not have the spare land and the infrastructure to comfortably accommodate it.

Thank you, Public Watchdog. I live in the neighborhood of 225 N. Northwest Highway. I have nothing against developers; I presume a developer built my house some years ago. I agree that multi-family development in the middle of our single-family neighborhood would, as you say, “add density”. As residents, we wonder if the unelected planning & zoning commission will listen to our concerns.

As for the Kalo thing, we wish them well. For me personally, I agree with you also that the city should not pay any amount to close that deal, not even a penny. It should be a private thing. I hope they succeed. If they don’t, however, the default position is NOT multi-family residences.

Thanks for watching out for us.


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